The Sporting Heritage Awards

Sporting heritage is firmly linked to society’s development and our identity today, whether this is evidenced in artefacts, documents, photos, videos or the spoken word, or a combination of these.

On Thursday 28th April 2022, the inaugural Sporting Heritage Awards took place at Leeds City Museum. The awards sought to acknowledge and celebrate the impact and role of sporting heritage in communities, education, academia, sport, society and culture. I attended the awards on behalf of Leeds Living.

On arrival at Leeds City Museum, after finding somewhere safe to lock up my bike, I headed into the ceremony room, where people were mingling and enjoying cups of tea and coffee. There were about 8 tables in the room, and I was seated at the community table, with other guests and award nominees.

Dr Justine Reilly, the founding director of Sporting Heritage, welcomed everyone to the ceremony and gave a quick overview of why the organisation had decided to host the awards, and what sporting heritage means for us all. She passed the microphone over to the event hosts, seven time Paralympic champion, and Yorkshire girl, Hannah Cockroft OBE, and BBC Sports presenter, Tanya Arnold.

The awards ceremony proper started just after 12, with a brief video about the event and the importance of supporting sporting heritage, from event sponsors The Creative Core. Following this, the first award ‘Sports Club or National Governing Body Award’ was presented. The winners were Watford Football club and Watford Museum, who have together made a commitment to safeguard, protect and promote the history of the Club and football in the region. They went up on the stage to receive their award and to thank those who nominated them, as well as all those who help to make their work possible.

The following 7 awards were presented to organisations from across the UK.

The Museum and Archives Award was presented to Silverstone Interactive Museum, a space that seeks to discover the stars, stories and science behind British motor racing, for their Conservation Management Plan, which wowed the judges as it helped to restore and protect the collections found at the museum.

The Schools Award, which sought to recognise a school that has celebrated local and national sporting heritage throughout the year, was presented to the Football Museum, in partnership with EveryColor and St Winifred’s Church of England School for their work to promote equality, diversity and inclusion in sport, which ran as a project across several primary schools.

The Community Award was presented to Byrne Avenue Baths, a swimming pool and sports centre in Birkenhead, Wirral that is, thanks to the organisation, undergoing renovation work, by the community and for the community.

The Celebrating Diversity Award, which aims to celebrate the diversity in sporting heritage, for example celebrating organisations or people who are working to share the heritage of ethnic minority groups, women or disabled people, was awarded to Women in Rugby League for their work and passion around educating young women about the diverse female role models in rugby league both now and in the past.

The Recognising Sporting Heritage Volunteers award was shared by Stephen Hedges, a volunteer at the Welsh Cricket Museum, for his work with colleagues to engage and share stories about the history of Welsh cricket, and Nottingham County Cricket, for their significant contribution to promoting sporting heritage across their organisation.

Penultimately, the ‘Research Award’ was presented to Dr Fiona Skillen from Glasgow Caledonian University for her engaging work in shaping understanding of women’s place in sporting history in Scotland. Fiona thanked Sporting Heritage for the award, and highlighted the important contribution that others have made in supporting her to have their stories told.

The final award of the ceremony, the ‘moment of the year award’, was presented to the National Paralympic Heritage Trust for their work to protect and share British Paralympic Heritage, and in particular for the ‘Meet the Paralympian’ project which has enabled thousands of children across the UK to learn more about the Paralympics and its history.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have attended the awards ceremony, and enjoyed hearing about the diverse array of activities, events and spaces that are protecting and promoting sporting heritage across the UK.

National Sporting Heritage Day is happening on September 30th 2022, and it will see people from across the country coming together to celebrate sporting heritage in a range of ways. The topic for the day is celebrating diversity, and there will be events and activities taking place across the UK. For more information about the day, and Sporting Heritage as an organisation, you can find them on social media, or head to their website:

Photograph by Gemma Bridge.

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